Wow – an excellent, well-reasoned post on Burkas, human rights, religious freedom, and politician’s duties on matters of this nature:
Edit: I shared Scary’s post on Reddit, which is always seems to stir up good debate.
There are many arguments in support of banning the burka that, at first blush, are convincing. The burka is not proscribed by the Koran or mainstream Islam. Many consider the garment to be symbolic of oppression; the woman within has no identity, no contact with the outside world. Some call it a “prison”, enslaving its wearer to her husband. These are an affront to the values of Western nations, Canada included.
None of these arguments, though, present a transgression of recognized human rights as long as burka fashion is voluntary. In other words, if someone wants to wear it, why shouldn’t she (or even he) be allowed to? More importantly, if someone truly feels that they have a religious duty to wear it, then we also risk trampling on another freedom, that of religion…
…Sarkozy has the right to condemn the Burka, even when speaking as the representative of the French people. I would even argue that he has the duty, since a vast majority find the practice to be repulsive. He should not, however, seek to use the powers of the state to compel women to dress a certain way in public, contrary to their religious beliefs…
…For that would be forcibly taking these women from the only prison they know, and in the process subjecting all of us to a bigger prison – that of the nanny-state.